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ULTIMATUM - Symphonic Extremities (Vinyl)

Vinyl LP (2019)

Ultimatum’s debut Symphonic Extremities was originally released in 1995 on cassette, and then was later picked up by Juke Box Media in 1996 for CD with the bonus track “World of Sin.” In 2007, Retroactive reissued the CD with 3 bonus tracks, but this is the first time it has been issued on vinyl - 300 copies (250 black/50 “Snot Green”). To quote myself from a Heaven’s Metal review of the 2007 Retroactive Records reissue:

“If Udo Dirkschneider and Dave Mustaine "mixed it up" with Overkill and Anthrax in a mosh pit beneath the bloody cross of Christ, I have no doubt the end result would sound something like Ultimatum!”

Immediately apparent from the onset, these guys perfectly blended classic power metal (Accept/Iron Maiden) with thrash metal (Megadeth/Metallica) with just a tad of death and doom to boot. I dug the following up from archives (circa 1997) just so I could adequately capture the initial enthusiasm:

“This hybrid death/thrash/classic metal band has produced a very powerful and raw debut. Fans of the early Deliverance will love the big classic metal riffs pumped into these thrashy songs … Accept would be a good secular comparison, but these guys really like to shred more than that band … with Ultimatum front man Scott Waters, we get a nice variety of singing and growling. The lyrics are easy to discern most of the time. Headbangers will really enjoy this music as some of the big riffs are obliterating. For an independent release, this is excellent. Fans of both extreme metal and classic metal will find much common ground here.”

Needless to say, I was very excited about hearing these songs in vinyl format but wasn’t sure how well the “raw” nature of the originals would be preserved. Rob Colwell did an excellent job because the songs have a low-end punch and “live” quality, with that demo-lower volume preserved. This is one of those old-school recordings where you have to crank the volume up a few notches higher than normal, but this time without the annoying “tape-hiss.” I would assume this is a digital to analog rendering using the remastered tracks from the 2007 reissue. The title track, “Black Light,” and “Fatal Delay” have always been favorites, but the Cliff Burton-esque “Ode To Noise” remains one of the most unique songs from this collection. The semi-ballad “The Grip” similarly adds contrast to the brutal pace set by most of the songs in this collection. One of the musical highlights of the Symphonic Extremities release is the prominent bass guitar line throughout, and on this vinyl version, those notes really jump out of the speakers.

The record comes with a paper inner sleeve, but also included is a 12” two-sided insert with pictures on one side and lyrics/credits on the other. Layout and design were revamped by Scott himself and I especially like what he did with the back cover of the outer jacket. Of note, this release is pre-Limited Run Vinyl series so this is standard weight vinyl with non-poly lined inner paper sleeve. Additionally, unlike Into The Pit, this release is not part of the Roxx Records Underground Series. Fans of the earlier, more evangelical styles of Christian metal – as well as long-time Ultimatum fans – will find this release essential.

Track Listing:

Side A

Symphonic Extremities (4:31)

The Killing Fields (4:31)

E.N.D. (4:59)

Black Light (4:09)

Darkest Void (3:57)

Ode To Noise (1:57)

Side B

The Grip (6:16)

Fatal Delay (7:52)

Megaton (6:01)

Blink (2:56)

World Of Sin (4:57)

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